R. Kelly: Trapped in the Closet

Last nite, Tash and I watched all 12 episodes of R. Kelly's masterpiece "hip-opera," Trapped in the Closet on YouTube.com. Seriously, I think that R. Kelly may be the Shakespeare of our times, combining rhyming couplets and a whole lotta soul.  It's like Shakespeare's sonnets, tragedies and comedies all melded into one.  This magnus opus has everything:  brothaaz on the down-lo, skanky hoez, midgets in cabinets, the grit of "urban" reality.  With "hip-opera" themes like that, Verdi and Puccini just can't compete wit' da R. Kelly, yo.  I laughed, I cried, I rewinded, then I laughed some more.  

And then he says move
She says no
He says move
She says no
BITCH MOVE!!! she moves, and then, he looks at the cabinet,
he walks to the cabinet, he's close to the cabinet, now he's opening the cabinet.
Now pause the movie cos what i'm about to say to ya'll is so damn twisted,
Not only is there a man in his cabinet, but the man… is a MIDGET! 

(Trapped in the Closet, Chap. 9)


..then Cathy says Gwendolyn shut up girl damn..just listen to me
you know that crusty wearin hoe that you was talkin about…Gwen says uh uh..Cathy says well…Gwen says well..well what? Cathy says girl…Gwen says Cathy…Cathy say Gwen I'm sorry girl but that hoe was me….

(Trapped in the Closet, Chap. 12) 

Concert on the Rock

I spent the weekend at Concert on the Rock, up on Hachimenzan, the mountain just outside downtown Nakatsu. This was the 3rd annual Concert on the Rock, and the third time I have I have attended the concert. This year unlike the 2 previous years, this year I went purely as a paying spectator, to hang out with my friends and listen to some music and to enjoy the nice weather.

Last year, Fred and I performed an accoustic set under the band name, "Manner Mode." We performed some classic covers and some L.S. original songs of angst and heartbreak.  I haven't really developped any new material or performed since last fall anyway.  I just haven't really felt the musical inspiration lately.  Maybe a change of scenery and the other upcoming changes in my life will kick start my creativity again.  

While overall, I appreciate the hardworking organizers of the concert this year, I felt that last year's festival was somewhat better. And I am not just saying that because I performed last year. I'm not that much of a diva! I just felt that there were more diverse food tents last year, and a better set order for the bands. I liked the idea of the more acoustic sets performing on Sunday last year. This year, I thought the volume levels sounded way louder on Sunday than on Saturday, and some of the acts performing on Sunday were not the most compatible music for a bunch of tired, hung-over people looking to just chill. There was one Japanese female singer in particular, who sounded like she had a good voice, but her sound levels were just a bit off, so she ended up sounding harsh and piercing. 残念ですね! Too bad!

Another thing that I would like to point out is the fact the the event is and was supposed to be a charity event for a center for underpriviledged children.  Besides mention of it on flyers and on the website, there wasn't much said about the charity aspect of the concert during the event itself, which is too bad I think.  Also, the MCs who were introducing the bands were pretty dry and to the point, lacking in charisma and enthusiasm.  I understand the sentiment of letting bands' music speak for itself, but I also think there is room for improvement in the PR department.  

Anyway, I'm not criticizing (at least not in a mean-spirited way), I'm just saying how I feel and attempting to be constructive. To Rachel and everybody else who organized the event this year without Rich (the original founder and visionary behind the first two Concerts on the Rock), お疲れさまでした! Good job, and thank you for your efforts. 来年もがんばってください! I hope you guys keep this event going! Nakatsu needs all the art and culture it can get. After attending my 3rd Concert on the Rock, I am definitely beginning to feel the timer counting down until the end of my stay on JET in Japan. The end of one journey, and the beginning of another. The big journey of life. haha, enough clichés for one morning. It's Monday morning, back to "work".

musical discovery: Pierre Lapointe

Another gem I discovered on my recent trip to Québec:

Combining the Gitane-scented smokiness and intimacy of vielle-école (old school) French chanson with lush, classical Chopin-esque flourishes, singer-songwriter-pianist Pierre Lapointe could be easily categorized as the spiritual heir of Serge Gainsbourg with his well-crafted lyrics and playful sexual innuendo.

The fact that he’s young, gay, talented, plays piano, and comes from Québec also immediately suggests that he is perhaps the francophone answer to Anglo-Quebecker/American gay, piano playing, singer-songwriter, Rufus Wainwright, who has himself dabbled with singing in French. However, Lapointe transcends these comparisions and finds his own particular artistic voice. Well versed in the classical forms French chanson, Lapointe’s songwriting covers all the thematic bases of amour, ennui, jouissance, angst, etc. But his songs include a healthy injection of rock and roll cojones (or as they say en français, les couilles) and experimental edge that prevent them from falling into the trap of retro rehashing.

His third and latest album, la forêt des mal-aimés, was released 20 March 2006.

Check out the official website for song samples, lyrics, and much more. (French only)

Here is another review from the Montreal Mirror (English)

If I sound too much like a lovelorn schoolboy in my unqualified praise of Pierre Lapointe, let me give my full disclosure. As a sometimes piano playing, amateur singer-songwriter myself, I have always have a soft spot in my heart for the great artistes of the piano/singer/songwriter genre: Rufus Wainwright, Elton John, Carol King, Tori Amos, Ben Folds.